Top Ten tips to spring into Summer

7 July 2014

Top Ten tips to spring into Summer

The rainy days of spring are now over, having made way for the warm, sunny days of summer. Summer is a great time of year to spend more time in the great outdoors, and also a great time of year for getting your healthy habits back on track.

It doesn't take much to improve your health even a little, as these ten fantastic tips from legal healthcare specialists prove:

1. Walk each day

The sun is a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the weather while it lasts. While the rain holds off, consider increasing the amount of time you spend walking every day. You could walk part of your journey to work, do the school run on foot or even go for a quick walk at lunch time or in the evening - and summer weekends are perfect for a gentle jaunt. According to NHS Choices, most people already walk up to 4,000 steps each day, but recommend 10,000, which can burn as many as 400 calories. If you walk regularly, you'll also reduce stress and potentially lose weight, as well as lowering the risk of some cancers, stroke, asthma, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

2. Get up early

With long daylight hours, many people will find themselves waking up earlier than normal. Getting up early and getting outside will increase your vitamin D levels, with much of our intake coming from sunlight. Without enough vitamin D, older adults risk more bone fractures and other bone problems, while children can develop rickets. An adequate vitamin D intake leads to healthy teeth and bones. Children aged under 5, those aged 65+ and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are at the greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency.

3. Enjoy a spot of gardening.

Gardening not only gets you outside in the sunshine, but it's good for your heart too, say the British Heart Foundation. Whether you're mowing the lawn, planting or tidying, gardening will contribute to the 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical exercise that you should be getting each week, and is also praised by the president of the Royal College of Physicians, Sir Richard Thompson, who says that GPs should "prescribe a course of gardening for people who come to them with depression or stroke".

4. Try cycling

Another way to enjoy the summer weather is to cycle; whether this be to work, to meet friends or a leisurely bike ride in the countryside. The benefits of cycling are huge; it not only helps to tone your muscles (especially those in the buttocks, thighs and calves), but if done regularly, can also lower your resting pulse rate, strengthen your heart muscles and also improve your circulation and your lungs, which will reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes. It can also help you to lose weight, especially when combined with a healthy diet.

5. Go swimming

You don't need to be at a beach resort to enjoy summer swimming - there are plenty of indoor and outdoor pools all over the UK that will suffice. As well as boosting your mood and helping to control your weight, swimming - like cycling - can make your cardiovascular system even healthier. You'll also find that it will strengthen your muscles and improves your flexibility, and if you're recovering from an operation, you may find that your doctor suggests swimming to help you to recover.

6. Have a go at yoga

In the summer, you may even be able to find outdoor yoga classes taking place near you. Whether you're a complete beginner or more experienced, yoga classes have a huge number of health benefits. A recent US review claimed that it is a great activity for those with arthritis, as it can not only relieve both psychological distress and pain, but could also reduce the risk of depression. There are some studies that have also suggested that yoga may be better than some conventional treatments at reducing lower back pain.

7. Protect your face and eyes

While the summer sun has its benefits, it can also cause plenty of damage. A pair of sunglasses with decent UV protection or a wide-brimmed hat can help to protect you against the sun's harmful rays, which can not only burn the skin and eyes, but can increase the risk of skin cancer. If you are exposed to the sun's rays over the long term, you may also be at increased risk of cataracts as well as pterygia - growths on the surface of the eye. If you're buying new sunglasses, don't just pick them as a fashion statement; choose glasses that offer 100% UV protection, have a UV 400 label and have the CE Mark.

8. Eat with the seasons

Many foods that are in season in summer have a huge number of health benefits. The fresher and more seasonal your fruit and veg, the higher the vitamin C content - and, if you're growing your own, you can freeze summer produce as soon as it is picked so that you have access to these nutrients at other times of year. Seasonal summer foods include sweetcorn, which is packed full of antioxidants, as well as tomatoes - which contain the carotenoid lycopene, which can protect against sunburn and may even help to fight cancer.

9. Improve your brainpower

Summer is a great time to take a look at your diet and make sure that you're getting the right nutrients to keep your brain strong and healthy. Top food picks for added brain power include plenty of water; dehydration can reduce your concentration and even shrink your brain tissues. Wholegrain foods provide slow release energy to the brain, while you'll find plenty of vitamin E in seeds and nuts. Try oily fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel) for omega-3 fatty acids, blueberries for vitamin C and antioxidants, and blackcurrants for an added dose of vitamin C.

10. Self-manage your joint pain

Extra activity in the summer can lead to increased pain if you suffer with arthritis or joint pain, but there's a healthy balance to be had. Pain can be self-managed in a number of different ways, depending on the issue. Stiffness can be relieved with hot water bottles, warm baths and morning exercise, while ice packs are the best way of reducing swelling. Be sure to stay active and keep muscles around the affected areas stay strong; this can help to stop symptoms from worsening, and can also protect against osteoporosis. Finally, you may also find that massage, acupuncture, meditation and breathing exercises can all help, but it's important to find the right self-management methods that work for you.

Article courtesy of